Jeremy Black (auth.)'s A History of the British Isles PDF

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Sample text

Nevertheless no one, not the people who lived in what is now Wales, not the Angles, nor the Saxons, nor the Romans, had any consciousness of Wales or for that matter of England as such until the sixth century or later. Surviving Welsh poetry is claimed to begin in the sixth century with Taliesin and Aneirin. Taliesin composed a series of poems in praise of Urien of Rheged and his son Owain. Rheged was in the Carlisle area. Aneirin wrote one long poem, The Gododdin, about how his lord, Mynyddog Mwynfawr of Gododdin, the region between the Forth and the Tyne, sent a warband to recover the strategically important town of Cattraeth (Catterick) in what is now Yorkshire.

Peasants became subject to closer control and some free men had their status and rights lessened by the new lords. The Norman conquest thus changed more than simply the world of high politics. NORMAN! SATION Unlike the Danish seizure of the throne by Cnut, that by William was followed by a social revolution. William, who claimed to be the THE MIDDLE AGES 29 rightful successor of Edward the Confessor, may not have intended this, for Englishmen who submitted at the beginning of his reign were allowed to keep their lands and William appointed two in succession as Earl ofNorthumbria, but the scale of the resistance to the spread and consolidation of Norman rule led to the adoption of a harsher attitude.

He attempted to buy the Danes off with Danegeld (protection money). At least £240,000 was paid, testimony to the wealth and organisation of the English state, although the figures given in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle may be exagerated and anyway the policy was unsuccessful in the long term. Although resistance continued for many years, King Swein of Denmark led major attacks in 1003-6 and 1013. The last led Aethelred to flee to Normandy, and after Swein died in 1014 his son, Cnut, continued the struggle.

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